Author Topic: Arvo Pärt's asylum.  (Read 30165 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Scriptavolant

  • Guest
Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« on: May 31, 2007, 07:38:38 AM »
I know only a pärt of his works: Arbos, Te deum, Berliner Messe, Fratres.
I'm not particularly fond of sacred music and on the whole I've found him innocuos and a bit too accessible, that is pretty atmospheric but non-significant. I'm asking if there are works worth to be known apärt from the ones I cited, maybe I'll take a chance to change my mind.

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12024
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2007, 07:51:08 AM »
You might try Pro et Contra, for cello and orchestra, written in 1966 for Rostropovich.  It is on this CD below which includes Pärt's two symphonies, also written prior to his enormous stylistic change.  (I have not yet heard them, nor this recording.)  I heard the piece live at Juilliard a couple of years ago and liked it very much.  It is radically different from what most people know as typical of his output -- much more complex and abstract -- and could have come from a completely different composer. 

Arvo Pärt: Pro et Contra, Symphonies 1 and 2 (Paavo Järvi, Truls Mørk, Kalev Kuljus, Arvo Leibur, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra)



--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Lethevich

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9758
  • I spilled my drink!
  • Currently Listening to:
    Rihm, Bialas, Ballif, Schumann, Schubert
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2007, 09:25:03 AM »
I'm not particularly fond of sacred music and on the whole I've found him innocuos and a bit too accessible, that is pretty atmospheric but non-significant.

IMO that is not how I would describe his better choral works (he does get a bit repetetive in the less-significant ones such as the mass, though). I find him absolutely gripping when at his best. The Stabat Mater is mandatory IMO, probably his greatest composition, the Passion is also remarkable although the length tests many peoples patience.

Tabula Rasa is another that needs to be heard, again, the second movement could test ones patience, but the first movement shows him at his best and the contrast between the movements is startling.

Edit: One feature of some of his early instrumental writing in his "mature" style (eg Tabula Rasa, Summa, Cantus, Fratres, Festina Lente) is just how confident they sound - written at a time when serialism was popular, this is blatently melodic, semi-minimal and atmospheric music written masterfully.

I would also add Fur Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel (on the ECM disc if possible) to the "must hear" list.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2007, 09:29:24 AM by Lethe »
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline orbital

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2469
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2007, 09:28:58 AM »
His Passion is the only one I can stand to listen from beginning to end

Scriptavolant

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2007, 09:43:42 AM »
IMO that is not how I would describe his better choral works (he does get a bit repetetive in the less-significant ones such as the mass, though). I find him absolutely gripping when at his best. The Stabat Mater is mandatory IMO, probably his greatest composition, the Passion is also remarkable although the length tests many peoples patience.

Tabula Rasa is another that needs to be heard, again, the second movement could test ones patience, but the first movement shows him at his best and the contrast between the movements is startling.

Edit: One feature of some of his early instrumental writing in his "mature" style (eg Tabula Rasa, Summa, Cantus, Fratres, Festina Lente) is just how confident they sound - written at a time when serialism was popular, this is blatently melodic, semi-minimal and atmospheric music written masterfully.

I would also add Fur Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel (on the ECM disc if possible) to the "must hear" list.

Is Tabula Rasa the work that includes the two movements: Ludus and Silentium? And I guess you're praising "Ludus", which infact really moved me at first listening, though now I'm unable to enjoy it with the same interest. Silentium, instead, is a sort of static snapshot of great impact and sound, but that's it in my opinion.
For what concerns Spiegel in Spiegel for violin and piano, no I cannot honestly enjoy something like hearing two piano pupils working on rhythm subdivision for 10 minutes ;D

I'll give a listen to Stabat Mater and Pro e contra, as bhodges adviced (thanx).

Choo Choo

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2007, 09:47:24 AM »
I am very fond of his Litany.

It's a setting of the Prayers of St John Chrysostom i.e. a cycle of 24 prayers, one for each hour of the day and night - very spare and astringent, by no means easy listening.  For me it conjures the image of a nocturnal landscape - possibly as sculpted by Jake & Dinos Chapman - illuminated by a pool of light which moves around in a wide arc, selectively revealing the detail in 24 places per orbit.  Spooky, but calming.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2007, 09:49:10 AM by Choo Choo »

Choo Choo

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2007, 10:03:56 AM »
Arvo Pärt: Pro et Contra, Symphonies 1 and 2 (Paavo Järvi, Truls Mørk, Kalev Kuljus, Arvo Leibur, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra)

This reminds me, I have the BIS disk with Symphonies 1-3 as well as Pro et Contra, which I haven't heard in ages (and retain no memory of) :

   

Going to give it a listen now.

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2007, 10:07:18 AM »
IMO that is not how I would describe his better choral works (he does get a bit repetetive in the less-significant ones such as the mass, though). I find him absolutely gripping when at his best. The Stabat Mater is mandatory IMO, probably his greatest composition, the Passion is also remarkable although the length tests many peoples patience.

Tabula Rasa is another that needs to be heard, again, the second movement could test ones patience, but the first movement shows him at his best and the contrast between the movements is startling.

Edit: One feature of some of his early instrumental writing in his "mature" style (eg Tabula Rasa, Summa, Cantus, Fratres, Festina Lente) is just how confident they sound - written at a time when serialism was popular, this is blatently melodic, semi-minimal and atmospheric music written masterfully.

I would also add Fur Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel (on the ECM disc if possible) to the "must hear" list.

Bingo! I agree with every word, every recommendation! This is the hard core of Part's tintinabuli pieces - I'd add only Es sang vor langen Jahren, which is possibly, along with the Stabat Mater, my favourite Part piece. After these pieces Part began to dilute the style somewhat, to equally diluted effect IMO. Although I'd include the Miserere amongst those diluted pieces (though not so much as others such as Litany) I'd also say that it is one of Part's most powerful pieces and I recommend it wholeheartedly too. I've talked about this before, about the unusual situation Part must have found himself in. Here he was, having discovered/created/whatever this perfect style and technique - I use the word advisedly because, like it or not, the tintinabulism technique is absolutely flawless from every angle, on its own terms. What could he do now - repeat himself? I don't think so, for all sorts of reasons. Or try to develop the technique? Well, that's what he did, adding variations and extensions to the technique which, whilst it broadened its scope, lessened its impact. That's why, to restate my first point, that small list of pieces:

Stabat Mater
Passio
Fratres
Tabula Rasa
Festina Lente
Spiegel im spiegel
Es sang vor langen Jahren


will IMO stay the central, perfect focus of his output. And we can hardly complain!

Is Tabula Rasa the work that includes the two movements: Ludus and Silentium? And I guess you're praising "Ludus", which infact really moved me at first listening, though now I'm unable to enjoy it with the same interest. Silentium, instead, is a sort of static snapshot of great impact and sound, but that's it in my opinion.
For what concerns Spiegel in Spiegel for violin and piano, no I cannot honestly enjoy something like hearing two piano pupils working on rhythm subdivision for 10 minutes ;D

I think, with both these pieces, if you were to quietly concentrate on the process in each piece - spell-binding and utterly logical - you might overcome your problem; listening to them as one listens to other 'pretty' tonal music may well lead to exasperation. They call for a kind of attentive meditation, I think. The power of Part's tintinabulism to create these beautiful but completely process-driven pieces is really quite incredible, and the reason I call it perfect. In Spiegel im spiegel the process is at its most bare and fragile, and it's very beautiful and moving to follow the way the line expands note by note, I think. In Tabula Rasa, simply because of the larger forces and more diverse material, it is somewhat more complex, but very clear once understood. The best example I have of the overwhelming logic of the technique is anecdotal; indulge me:

When I was about 15 I began to collect the ECM Part LPs avidly, and an early purchase was the Passio disc. This work starts with a choral exhortation, before settling down for about 70 minutes of the Passion itself; at the very end, though, with Jesus' words 'consumatum est', the music changes course somewhat, and then concludes with another sequence of choral writing.

Well, remarkably, even though I was hearing the piece for the first time, I was able, follwoing the words, to tell before it happened exactly what Part would do in that last minute or so of music; indeed, I sang along with the music!

Much later - last year, actually - I got hold of Paul Hillier's wonderful book on Part and was astonished - or maybe not - to find that, indeed, although the end of Passio is so different from what comes before, it is at the same time implicit in all that has gone before. The fact that I 'predicted it' was then, I suppose, less surprising. Incidentally, I consider this clear evidence of the power of analysis to explain responses to music; in this case it told me, 15 years after the even, precisely why my peculiar response to the piece had occured.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2007, 10:37:58 AM by lukeottevanger »

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2007, 10:41:37 AM »
Great post, Luke!

Offline edward

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3684
  • Hello, little man. I will destroy you.
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2007, 11:18:54 AM »
Stabat Mater
Passio
Fratres
Tabula Rasa
Festina Lente
Spiegel im spiegel
Es sang vor langen Jahren

I think we're starting to build a Part consensus here. These ones are what I'd consider central (haven't heard Passio yet, but the rest are), along perhaps with the Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten and the very brief Fur Alina.

The earlier works are less impressive to me. The polystylistic pieces merely remind me of how much further Schnittke took the style, while though the transitional Third Symphony (with its echoes of Stravinsky and Sibelius) and Wenn Bach bezuchtet hatten get an occasional play, they're not nearly as striking as the early tintinnabular pieces.

Recent Part...well, I just find it a pale shadow of his best work.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2007, 11:33:19 AM »
I think we're starting to build a Part consensus here. These ones are what I'd consider central (haven't heard Passio yet, but the rest are), along perhaps with the Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten and the very brief Fur Alina.

Yes, I thought I'd included the Cantus, it has an obvious place on that list. Fur Alina is a vital piece in his development, and valuable to us pianists, though not quite pure tintinabulation yet...only a tiny step away. The piano Variations are proper full-on tintinabulation, though.

The earlier works are less impressive to me. The polystylistic pieces merely remind me of how much further Schnittke took the style, while though the transitional Third Symphony (with its echoes of Stravinsky and Sibelius) and Wenn Bach bezuchtet hatten get an occasional play, they're not nearly as striking as the early tintinnabular pieces.

Recent Part...well, I just find it a pale shadow of his best work.

Wenn Bach bezuchtet hatten... it's a guilty pleasure of mine, something like a snake shedding its skin. You can see the later Part bursting to get out (especially Tabula Rasa) but there's still references to tradition in there waiting to be sloughed off. Bach in this case, obviously, and the tradition of tone-painting.

As for recent Part, I am sad to say I agree with you.

Offline beclemund

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 524
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2007, 12:51:03 PM »
Wonderful responses Luke. Very informative. Thanks for giving me some ideas on where to focus.

I have to admit, as a Pärt novice, I think it is the accessibility of his work that may make it so irresistible to me. Certainly, I find nothing insignificant about Es sang vor langen Jahren ... and his Stabat Mater is simply moving.
"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession." -- Albert Camus

Scriptavolant

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2007, 12:46:01 PM »
Thank you lukeottevanger, an enlightning post. Yes, my listening of Paert has been pretty superficial I admit it. One thing is I didn't expect him to be so admired and loved on the GMG; I've read critics which tended to acknowledge his mastery of course, but to relegate him in a dimension of pure "easy listeining", without serious historical significance.

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2007, 01:04:36 PM »
Thank you lukeottevanger, an enlightning post. Yes, my listening of Paert has been pretty superficial I admit it. One thing is I didn't expect him to be so admired and loved on the GMG; I've read critics which tended to acknowledge his mastery of course, but to relegate him in a dimension of pure "easy listeining", without serious historical significance.

You're welcome. I think anyone who dismisses Part as mere 'easy listening' is wildly missing the point, and probably just being snobbish. Part's music is not meant to be used as background music; it should be listened to carefully. Although the techniques he uses are much simpler in essence than those of much contemporary music, that means that one can really grasp them fully if one pays attention, leaving the mind free to become absorbed in the music, its sensuous effects and its unfolding at the same time. The music is unusual in that its beauty is rigorous and intense, not merely pretty.

I must say that for me, one of the unique things about Part is the way that his tintinabuli technique affects the relationship of melody and harmony. I've never heard anything like it in any other composer - the harmony is twined around the melody; they become one and the same; it is almost as if the harmony has been turned on its side and is thus heard melodically too. Part, jokingly, gave this phenomenon a formula: 1+1=1 but less flippantly this relates to his view of the relationship between Man and God, the latter enfolding and supporting the former whilst being a unity with him, I suppose. I do not share Part's beliefs but I can readily hear them working in the fundamentals of his music, and I find it deeply impressive and moving.

A composer who can manage this profoundest of relationships between form, content, philosophy and musical effect is more than just another composer of easy-to-listen-to sacred music a la...no, no names!

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2007, 01:24:41 PM »
Thanks for those very interesting posts, Luke.

Still, I'd like to mention that I've heard Part's music live several times - which probably means I heard it abiding by your terms (nothing else to do but listen :'() - and it just doesn't do much for me. Listening to recordings isn't any better. I really find it simplistic and, frankly, a bit boring.

(I know I should be posting this on your thread but sometimes we have to let these flame wars break out somewhere else so that no one notices they are contrived...)

Maciek

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2007, 01:27:13 PM »
Thanks for those very interesting posts, Luke.

Still, I'd like to mention that I've heard Part's music live several times - which probably means I heard it abiding by your terms (nothing else to do but listen :'() - and it just doesn't do much for me. Listening to recordings isn't any better. I really find it simplistic and, frankly, a bit boring.

(I know I should be posting this on your thread but sometimes we have to let these flame wars break out somewhere else so that no one notices they are contrived...)

Maciek

What pieces did you hear, out of interest?

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2007, 01:37:30 PM »
Live?

Adagio for piano trio
Cecilia, vergine romana
Magnificat
Miserere
Orient & Occident
Silouans Song

I'm not sure if the list is complete...

I know, none of your favorites are here.

Anyway, my judgement was a bit rash. I do listen to Part on CD from time to time and enjoy doing so. It's just that he isn't a favorite (far from it). Even if (for example) Gorecki is less subtle, the reason I enjoy Gorecki more is precisely because of a conscious raw primitivity I find in some of his pieces (2nd Symphony or Muzyczka IV - paradoxically, the less "primitive" ones ;))...

lukeottevanger

  • Guest
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2007, 01:50:44 PM »
Live?

Adagio for piano trio
Cecilia, vergine romana
Magnificat
Miserere
Orient & Occident
Silouans Song

I'm not sure if the list is complete...

I know, none of your favorites are here.

Well, no, I love the Miserere, if only because that tremendous Dies Irae outburst shows that Part still had his fire. But you're right, I don't rate the other pieces so much. I still think the Stabat Mater is probably the finest and most perfect of all his mature pieces, and also, with its string trio interludes, one of his most attractive - but I'm sure you've heard it already

Anyway, my judgement was a bit rash. I do listen to Part on CD from time to time and enjoy doing so. It's just that he isn't a favorite (far from it). Even if (for example) Gorecki is less subtle, the reason I enjoy Gorecki more is precisely because of a conscious raw primitivity I find in some of his pieces (2nd Symphony or Muzyczka IV - paradoxically, the less "primitive" ones ;))...

You know, I don't listen to Part very much either, though that might surprise you on the strength of my last posts. It's just that I have unbounded admiration for the technique and style he evolved - it's something extraordinary for any composer, and it's almost unique to find a style so isolated, so personal, so complete.

In fact, perhaps one reason I don't listen to Part as much as I might is that the style is so strong, I fell I can recreate its essence in my head quite easily. ???

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2007, 03:11:07 PM »
Well then, as unfortunate as it may sound for our flame war endeavour, it seems we can easily meet half way. Or maybe even I'm closer to your outlook than I initially thought - if the doses are small I have to admit Part is a fascinating composer. How sad it is when discussion forums like this one are disrupted by sudden reconciliations...

(BTW, there must be something seriously wrong with this spell checker, if it was ready to accept a spelling such as "endaveour"...! :o)

Offline Mystery

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Re: Arvo Pärt's asylum.
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2007, 09:28:34 AM »
The prolation canon of Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten - I fall asleep to it every night!